CHICAGO (CN) – Slamming police reforms proposed by the city’s mayor and the Illinois attorney general, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a speech Friday in Chicago about a favorite topic of the White House – crime in the Windy City.
Sessions delivered a prepared speech for the Chicago Crime Commission, an organization of business leaders that helped take down Al Capone and the mafia during the 1920s.
Joking about the noise coming from a small group of protesters outside, Sessions’ main target was a pending consent decree that would force reforms onto the Chicago Police Department. They include improving officer training and reporting each time an officer points a firearm at someone.
Amid calls for change from the public after several high-profile police shootings and a scathing Department of Justice report detailing discrimination and a lack of accountability within the CPD, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked a federal judge to step in.
Since Madigan filed suit last year, the state and city have been working together to formulate a plan and are taking public comments about their draft consent decree in court next week.
Sessions called the proposed decree “un-democratic in nature,” claiming it would restrict the CPD from fighting crime as it sees fit, unable to adapt to changes over the years and stripping power away from the superintendent.
“It would in effect rewrite the entire law book for the Chicago police,” the attorney general said in his speech.
Sessions filed a letter with the federal court detailing the Trump administration’s opposition to the decree, citing lack of flexibility and administrative costs.
“Chicago police are not the problem. Chicago police are the solution,” he added Friday, pinning blame on city leaders, “anti-police” protesters and what he called an “extreme sanctuary-city policy.”
“If you listen to police and professionals, crime will go down,” Sessions said, adding that CPD was already making changes on its own.
Referencing officer-involving shootings, he added, “We cannot treat [CPD] like a rogue police department because of the actions of a few.”
Sessions pointed to the recent murder conviction of Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. His trial drew national attention and, to Sessions, showed CPD is willing to take care of its own problems.
“It’s about who should run the police department,” Sessions went on, taking aim at city and state officials who he said are lacking in “support and political courage.”
“Will they continue to control the police department from their political graves?” he joked, presumably referring to Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both of whom will not seek re-election but are heavily involved in the consent decree.
Sessions said the Trump administration is “doing all we can on the Washington side,” mentioning the federal prosecutors he has been sending to Chicago who are forming a special “gun crime prosecution team.”
“There’s one asset that can make this city safer and it’s your police department,” Sessions advised. “They need to know they are supported.”
Mayor Emanuel took a page from the president’s playbook and tweeted in response to Sessions’ remarks.
“Today Jeff Sessions praised Bill Bratton’s NYPD leadership, then attacked Chicago. Before the AG runs his mouth he should get educated on what he’s talking about. Bratton is America’s top police expert and yesterday he praised Chicago’s crime reductions over the past 2 years,” he said Friday.